"We believe the victory wasn't kosher. The haredim are taking over the city, and that means future neighborhoods being built will be allotted to the haredi population. The city is becoming more and more haredi, and the public sphere is changing: exclusion of women, bus segregation, modesty notices on the streets, separate clinics and burning Israeli flags on Independence Day. This is religious terror. I feel unwanted in my city. Election day was a day of mourning for us."
In Wake Of Haredi Voter Fraud, Reelection Of Haredi Mayor, Divide Beit Shemesh Into 2 Separate Cities, Non-Haredim Say
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Secular and Zionist Orthodox Beit Shemesh residents are demonstrating tonight to promote dividing the city in two after alleged rampant election fraud Tuesday led to the re-election of the city’s very unpopular Sefardi haredi Shas Party mayor, Rabbi Moshe Abutbol, who won by a five point margin, Ynet reported.
Police arrested 8 people – all thought to be haredim – and confiscated at least 200 ID cards belonging to people who currently live outside of Israel along with detailed plans to use them – apparently to tip the election in Abutbol’s favor.
In the run-up to the election, officials also stopped several – perhaps dozens – of haredim from outside of Beit Shemesh who tried to illegally register to vote in the divided city.
The secular protestors are planning a motorcade from the Orot Banot school where Zionist Orthodox little girls were spit on, stoned and called “whores” by haredim in 2011 and 2012 to the commercial center of Beit Shemesh.
"We believe the victory wasn't kosher. The haredim are taking over the city, and that means future neighborhoods being built will be allotted to the haredi population. The city is becoming more and more haredi, and the public sphere is changing: exclusion of women, bus segregation, modesty notices on the streets, separate clinics and burning Israeli flags on Independence Day. This is religious terror. I feel unwanted in my city. Election day was a day of mourning for us,” Sigal, a Zionist Orthodox Beit Shemesh resident, told Ynet.
In 2008, non-haredim failed to unify around one candidate, allowing Abutbul to became the city's first haredi mayor.
Now so many haredim have moved into the city – in part because of Abutbol’s and Shas’s allegedly illegal use of housing funds – and the haredi birth rate is so high, haredim make up almost 50% of the city, and their bloc votes essentially control it.
"We live in a democratic country, so people should either accept the results or keep moaning," Abutbul reportedly said on Wednesday, dismissing the apparent election fraud that led to 8 arrests on election day.
"Beit Shemesh is simply going through a demographic change. I intend to keep leading the city in a way of unity, friendship and a round table. Everyone is invited to join the coalition,” Abutbol, who is notorious for refusing to do anything to reign in the haredi extremists that terrorize little girls and women, reportedly added.
Two years ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about dividing the city in two.
At the time, both sides overwhelming opposed the idea. In an interview with the haredi radio channel Kol Barama, Eli Yishai, the chairman of the Sefardi haredi Shas Party who was then the country’s Interior Minister, dismissed Netanyahu’s idea because, he said, dividing Beit Shemesh would create an unsustainable haredi city lacking of tax revenue.
"The meaning of being secular in Beit Shemesh these days is that some parts of the city are closed to us. I had to buy something and the shop nearby was closed, so I went to [the haredi neighborhood of] Ramat Beit Shemesh. But they didn't want to serve me because I was wearing Bermuda shorts. I had to ask the shop assistant in the shop next door to buy it for me. It seeps into secular areas as well, where they now ask [customers] to wear modest clothing [in order not to enrage or upset haredi customers]. Some 15 years ago we sat in an open pool on the Sabbath and heard music, and today Beit Shemesh is a pile of trash and frogs,” Yisrael, a 34-year-old secular resident of Beit Shemesh reportedly said.